Category Archives: video game

Game review: God Eater Resurrection for PS4 and PS Vita

Having sunk a little over 1,000 hours into all three Dark Souls games, (No, seriously, over 1,000, making it the longest I’ve played anything since Diablo II) I decided to trade them in at the game shop, and it turns out Horizon Zero Dawn still isn’t available for trade. On a whim I got God Eater Rage Burst 2 because I’d recently seen it praised on a gaming site. The game came with a lovely thank you letter from the director, a classy move somewhat similar to The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. BUT, this letter also included an invitation to download a remastered version of the first game and play it to get introduced to the world and characters. That’s double classy. As an added bonus, this is a cross-play AND a cross-save game, meaning the same save file can be shared between my PS4 and my Vita, which doesn’t get nearly enough love these days. (I don’t mention it anywhere in this review, but the PS Vita version plays just as superbly as the PS4 version. No shock, as this was made for the PSP, the other Sony portable that Sony gave up on. Le sigh, and I digress.)

So what could possibly go wrong? Well, there are some missteps here and there, and I’ll tell you now, this is not a game for the casual crowd. It starts off tough and only gets harder through its three story arcs, for reasons that I will explain a bit later. I’ll get to the problems in due time as well, but first, let me cover the story, the controls, and the various game elements. I should mention that while I’ve beaten all the story and free missions up to Difficulty level 13, there’s still a crap ton of extra missions and challenges available after the story is done. I’ve put in 162 hours, and this is for a free game to get me into the next game. Hot damn, that’s a lot of game, y’all.

Starting off, this is a very anime game. The characters are supposedly an elite military corp dedicated to saving the world from monsters, and yet their uniforms are pretty skimpy in the fabric department. Cry sexism if you like, but several of the dudes are showing off as much skin as the women, so to me it’s an absurd form of equality. Or something. Later on, I was able to unlock an outfit that actually looked like something a military officer might wear and used that most of the time. But I was playing a girl with blue hair and black cat ears, and one of my male companions wears a vest and shorts even in missions with ankle deep snow. There’s also a costume to unlock that will let you cosplay as a pink teddy bear with a giant frickin’ sword. This is not a game that’s taking itself too seriously, is what I’m saying. Continue reading


Game review: Shadowrun Returns for PC

I got Shadowrun Returns during a GOG sale in the fall and played some of it between my other games. To give context for this review, I played almost all the way to the end in short sessions before starting over for reasons I’ll get to in a bit and rolled up two other characters before playing the whole game in a single session. Then I sat on this review for a long time, debating whether or not I wanted to talk about the game at all. I do need to write more posts here, and I’ve been real bad about putting out new stuff. Still, I kinda feel bad having to shit on what was a passion project for someone who clearly loved the original role play game. Kinda. But with time to think it over, I keep coming back to all the things that really pissed me off and I’d want to share that with y’all. Maybe you’ll play it and won’t have the same feelings. Or maybe you’ll give it a pass and play something else instead. That’s really the better option, in my opinion.

So, here we go: Shadowrun Returns is a complete and utter disappointment to play, both from the perspective of a long-time video gamer and as a player of the original old school pencil and paper RPG. The biggest disappointment is how little it tries to do anything resembling role-play. Like many modern triple A games, it gives you a list of dialogue options to choose from, and with the exception of a word change or a sentence at most, every choice leads to the same result. On startup, the game offers player the choice of various “etiquette” training, and depending on which you choose, you may only get to use it ONCE in the whole playthrough. AND EVEN THEN the response you get by sweet talking will be a single changed sentence before you’re right back on the same railed story as every other player.

This could be the one thing that really rubs me the wrong way precisely because there’s no voice acting. It’s all text scripts. So what it comes down to is, someone cobbled together a husk of a role play favorite and sold that old nostalgia song and dance, but couldn’t be bothered to actually make a role play game. Fuck that. Fuck it in every available orifice, and when you run out of holes, make some new ones and fuck those, too. Continue reading


Game review: Dark Souls II: Sins of the First Scholar for PS4

I just finished Dark Souls II: Sins of the first Scholar last night, having gone through all of the DLCs and beaten every boss, no matter how huge of a pain in the ass they were. Most weren’t, and there were only a few bosses that had me swearing violent threats against whoever designed those encounters. But for the most part, the bosses aren’t bad, they’re just…easy? I think until I got to the very end of the game, 75 percent of the bosses I took down on my first attempt. Even for some of the two attempt runs, it was because I pressed the wrong button and could immediately acknowledge “my bad” before the ubiquitous YOU DIED had appeared on screen. Most of the time, the real challenge to any From Software game isn’t fighting the boss. It’s in finding a route to the boss through all the ambushes and “gotcha” traps. The enemies are dumb as always, so for this edition, someone decided to add more of them to artificially crank up the difficulty. But that doesn’t make it hard. It’s just cheap.

Before I go into niggling details about the good and bad, I need to address an issue. With every video I’ve seen of people playing other From Software games, there’s a constant rant going on about Dark Souls II not being “right,” and I want to put that argument to rest first. This is a Dark Souls game just like the first and third. It takes place in the same general continent, albeit with hundreds or possibly even thousands of years passing between each age of the curse reviving. The game still has the same love of narrow cliff ledges, illusory walls, random mimic chests…it’s Dark Souls, y’all. If you’ve played one, you know what to expect from the rest.

There are a few points that the naysayers make with the ring of truth to them, namely that the game has a lot of samey enemies and a lack of varied environments. This is true. You fight a lot of knights in armor, and there’s not as much variety to this world as there are in the first and third installments.

But put that aside because really, the places you go really do look lovely. Take Brightstone Cove Tseldora as an example. It’s an inhabited aquifer brimming with glowing flowers. The first time I arrived there, I just hung out by the bonfire, taking in the view. (Enjoy the silence, by the way. The rest of this area is pure bullshit troll tactics.) (EDIT: I’m in my second run through the game and now notice that the area is the second bonfire for Shrine of Amana. Sorry for the mix up, but to be fair it is a really big game world.) And even the many castles have a sense of wonder to them on my first playthrough. I might lose that later, after my tenth run to try out all the possible build and weapon combos, but I can say with my first run through all the pretty that this games looks much better than the first, and the first looked pretty good to me. Continue reading


Game review: Let It Die for PS4

Y’all, I want to apologize for this review taking so long, and for not being able to finish Let It Die. I have only nine floors left to reach the end, and yet the thought of playing even one more time fills me with a creeping boredom so intense, I was making up house chores to avoid playing. I have fallen asleep while playing despite having just had a nap. The grind is so dreadfully boring that I actually went back to play Bloodborne, a game I swore I wouldn’t start over because the grind was so dull. I just reached a point where I said to hubby, “If I’m going to be grinding for days on end against cookie cutter clones, I should at least get rewarded with unique boss fights every now and then.”

Before I go on, I want to say that the makers of Let It Die quite often patch the game both to fix problems and to add different events. This has also made reviewing it harder because a lot of what bugged me when I first installed the game was fixed only a couple days or weeks later. This might seem like a good thing, but even the patches create their own problems that I’ll get to later. But I bring this up because within a month of this review going up, it’s possible some of what I’ll criticize won’t be in the game anymore. If you pick it up later and want to comment, “Nuh-uh Zoe, that isn’t how it works,” I’ll rebut that it was how things were when I played, and the patched version you have fixed it.

But I’m relatively confident that the game’s biggest problems cannot be fixed, and that’s the monotonous grind combined with an overly repetitive design.

Oh, also, this is a very long review. Consider this a fair warning that you’re gonna be here a while to finish this post. Continue reading


Pre-review: Nioh Last Chance Demo (PS4)

I’ve got this pre-review and a new game review coming in the near future, and this is possible because both games were free. I’m looking to publish a new book in the coming months, so that may help the financial crunch that’s keeping me strapped and gameless. (and bookless)(guh, being broke sucks)(I am incidentally attempting to go overboard with parentheses))

But so let me digress and talk about Nioh, which put out a last chance demo over the weekend. It is a demo and a beta, so there’s no guarantees that some of what I’ll talk about will be in the actual release. And in breaking with tradition, I’m going to give a verdict upfront. When the demo locked me out at 1:00 AM on Monday, my first question was “Would I buy this if this were the finished product?” The answer is yes, but I will probably wait a few months in the hopes of finding it at a discounted price. That’s more to do with me being broke and needing to be choosy about what one game I can buy in any month, and as Horizon Zero Dawn is also coming out in February, I would much rather get that first.

I played through the first mission twice and had two very different impressions of the game as a result of RNG. Given that the second playthrough was far more favorable and less negative, I kinda want to talk about it first. But some of those impressions won’t make sense if I take them out of order. So just be aware that while I’ll initially have a lot of bad things to bring up, eventually this review will get around to saying something nice to balance it all out. Continue reading


Extended re-re-review: Fallout 4…modded like a boss! (PS4)

It took FOREVER for Sony and Bethesda to get mod support on Fallout 4 on the PS4, at one point even looking like it would never come to pass. I was actually in a really long run on Dark Souls III when the update came out, and then I got Dark Souls, which also distracted me for a while before I could finally give this much desired feature a chance.

At first, I couldn’t get mods to work, but that wasn’t the fault of the mods themselves. For some odd reason, I started having lag in many indoor areas, lag so bad that I was seeing single digit frame rates and really bad instances of rubber banding. My character would literally take two steps forward and then one step back, and this was the case even after I deleted all mods and started a new game with the vanilla setup.

But after a few days of searching, I found a mod that cleaned up some extra debris, and that improvement in performance allowed me to start putting on other mods, some of which were for visual flair, like Simple Green. (Adding grass and leaves to the environment so it doesn’t look so barren and lifeless.) Another one I added allowed me to make any gun I wanted, just to see what I could get away with. (Funny story in that. I made a badass rifle before groaning in dismay because I had no ammo for it. I ended up having to craft a much less wicked .38 pipe pistol because that’s the more common ammo found in the early areas. Once I had some ammo to test my monster combat rifle, oh, baby, was it fun to use!)

I gave the mods a test run, completing one game on normal mode before I downloaded a mod that changed the time scale of the world to real time. Then I started a new game in survival mode to see if having a longer day/night cycle would address my problems with the constant prompts for food and water. Oh, and I also made a ring that gave me crazy amounts of XP for kills, making it much easier to level up and try out new perks that I’d previously left alone because I didn’t consider them essential. More on that in a bit. Continue reading


Game review: Dark Souls for Xbox360

I got a little amount of cash for Christmas, not enough for a proper new game, though. But as I’ve played something like 600 hours in Dark Souls III, I figured why not get the first game and see what’s changed? So I went to the local game shop, and as luck would have it, they had exactly one copy of the Prepare to Die edition in stock.

Before I get to the proper review, I want to address some complaints about the third installment. I see a lot of fans complain that Dark Souls III is totally different from the original game, and I gotta say, I’m not in agreement with that opinion. The third game is in many ways a refinement of all these ideas that started in the first. The menus and interface are more intuitive to use, the camera is less wonky, and the fast travel system is much, much better in the final installment. But almost everything else is quite similar. Many of the items and enemies found in the first game are in the third installment, and now having played the first game, and then gone back to play the third over again, I can see all the ways From Software is elbowing me in the ribs and going “Remember that? Wasn’t it great?”

And it can be great at times, when it isn’t being clunky or clumsy. The controls are so slow to react, and the dodge roll is pretty useless in most situations. I could hold the stick to the left, press the dodge roll four times, and go every direction EXCEPT to the left. I couldn’t reliably roll and execute a thrust attack because rather than thrust at the camera locked enemy, my character would instead attack thin air in whichever direction she was facing when she finished the roll. The camera lock is even more wonky than the later From Software games I’ve played, but I had to use it because attempting to fight without it often resulted in a gloriously clumsy dance where my character and the enemy both swung half a dozen times without either ever once connecting for a hit. Continue reading


Game Review: Bloodborne for PS4

I took every last old game I could pry from behind the entertainment center to the game shop and traded them in for a copy of Bloodborne. It wasn’t enough, so I had to pay half the price in cash to get it. But I figured the game had to be worth it. I mean, I liked Dark Souls III, so From software could do no wrong, right? Wrong. They could do just about everything wrong.

When I first put in the disc I found the patch required 3.9 gigabytes and would take five hours to download. So I said, “Screw it, I’ll play without the patch to see what the difference is.” Without the patch, there is no offline mode. Without the patch, the loading screen will remind you every single time what game you’re playing. Aside from that, I can’t really think of anything the patch did. Either way, my character’s run animation can randomly drop to a treacle slow shuffle for no apparent reason. (I thought this was some kind of loading trick like in Max Payne 3, except I could hit the sprint button and move normally without the shuffle stepping.) My character can still catch the finger of a dead enemy and drag their stupid floppy bodies around like a giant piece of toilet paper. All the wonk I encountered in the first run is present in the patched game. I’m thinking the bulk of the patch was probably the DLC being added in case I felt like buying it, but I don’t. In fact after I beat the game, I ejected the disc and promptly put Dark Souls III back in.

“Aw, Zoe, you didn’t give it a fair chance,” say the From Software lovers. Yes, yes I did. I played every maze-like area with its collections of copy pasta enemies, beat every single boss, and played the chalice dungeons, even. I decided that if I’m going to play this only once, I might as well fight the last two bosses and get the “supa-secret” ending. (It’s not much of a secret for me because I’ve watched the whole game played on YouTube ages ago.) In total I’d spent close to 150 hours playing this, and you can’t give a game more of a chance than to try everything it has to offer. Continue reading


Game update: Galak-Z for PS4

Let’s get out of the way that this is not a proper review. If you want my review of Galak-Z, you can find it here. But as I wrote in that post, I planned to come back and give this another shot when season 5 came out as a patch, something set to coincide with the PC release. That came to pass finally and…folks, I am so, so angry.

The patch notes listed a new Arcade mode that claims to make the game less punishing, and a new endless mode with daily challenges and leaderboards. This sounded okay to me. Spelunky has daily challenges and leaderboards, and while I don’t play them every day, it has given me a reason to keep dusting it off every few weeks on my Vita and PS4. It adds life to a game I might have otherwise deleted long ago. It shows promise, in other words.

So I fired up Galak-Z after a lengthy 1.8 gigabyte patch downloaded, and I went to look at the story mode. Wait, where’s season 5? I thought maybe the problem was, I needed to play season 4 over again to unlock it, and because it’s been forever since I’d played, I thought it best to just start over on the new Arcade mode to get familiar with the controls again before taking on the tougher levels.

This reintroduction was a painful reminder of why I ended up disliking a game I wanted to love at release, and it’s actually much worse in several ways. The lag that plagued the game even in moments with no enemies on screen is now even worse, with the screen randomly freezing for upwards of two seconds. With nothing on screen, this is already enough to get me swearing. In the middle of a dogfight with multiple enemies, it’s a death sentence. And it happens CONSTANTLY. How can a game get a patch this large and still not address one of the biggest issues the core game had? No, better yet, how can a game get a patch this big and feel even more broken than it did on release day? Continue reading


Game review: Transformers: Devastation for PS4

Okay, so this really, honestly should be my last game review for a while because at this point I don’t have many games left to trade in, and I want to keep most of those to replay when I need a diversion. As it turns out, this last game is one of those keepers. I’d read some unkind reviews of Transformers: Devastation that turned me off of it initially, mainly because they said the boss fights were ridiculously difficult. But hey, it’s a used copy for cheap, and I did beat Dark Souls III. So I can probably hack whatever the game throws at me, right? Yes, actually, I can. And I liked most of what I played.

I’m in agreement that some of those boss fights are ridiculously hard. It’s not so much the bosses themselves that make it hard for me, though. Sure, they have massive health bars and a plethora of attacks, but what makes it hard is the game’s intentionally wonky camera. It seems to me like if a game isn’t hard enough, the game makers mess with the camera to make it harder. Buh.

But so anyway, I should move on to the praise, because there is quite a lot to like in this little sliver of gaming goodness. First of all, being a fan of Transformers going back to the original 80s cartoon and comics, I can attest that it successfully nails the “feel” of the show and comics. The cut scenes merge pretty well with the combat, and the rendering style is almost a perfect match. While the game is really chintzy with ranged weapons ammo, the melee combat works pretty well, or at least well enough that I don’t feel like griping about not having more opportunities to shoot stuff. Continue reading